AUSTIN, Texas - Forget the notion that the University of Texas is beyond compare in the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia's first road game as a member of the Big 12 is against a team that has acted and played a lot like the Mountaineers.
The Longhorns are 8-6 and lost their conference opener Saturday in overtime against Baylor. The Mountaineers are 7-6 and also lost their first Big 12 game Saturday to Oklahoma. Both teams are using new and young players.
Both teams have had problems with shooting and scoring. Both teams have the same problem with their rosters.
"You never know who is going to play, you never know who is going to show up," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said.
The words from his counterpart, Rick Barnes, are about the same entering tonight's game at the Frank Erwin Center. The 9 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN2 and feature a Texas team that's the youngest in college basketball.
"Like Bobby," Barnes said, "I don't know what to expect."
His team's top 10 players are freshmen and sophomores. The Longhorns have only two upperclassmen and both seniors are walk-ons who've played a combined six minutes. They're also without arguably their best player. Sophomore guard Myck Kabongo, who averaged 9.6 points per game last season, was suspended the first 23 games this season.
"We're young, but as coaches, we can't accept that," Barnes said. "Sometimes maybe we're unrealistic that way. We do realize it's something they're going through they haven't gone through, but they think they're older than they are. If they think that way, they ought to play like they're older than they are."
WVU starts one senior, two first-year transfers, a freshman and a sophomore. The first player off the bench is usually a sophomore who is followed by a freshman.
The other options are a redshirt sophomore who hasn't stayed healthy through his first two college seasons, a sophomore who played one minute Saturday and a sophomore who's only played in six games. They've also got a first-year transfer who's played one minute the past three games, a junior college senior whose role depends on the opponent and a freshman who was suspended by the NCAA the first six games.
Each has to be mentioned because Huggins has tried virtually everyone and everything.
"I think in the past we've always had seniors step up," Huggins said. "We lost Joe Alexander and everybody said, 'What are you going to do?' Well, Da'Sean Butler stepped up. And then Kevin Jones stepped up after everyone said, 'What are you going to do after Da'Sean?' K.J. did a great job of that.
"I think the problem is we haven't had anybody step up, in all honesty. How many shots did you see K.J. miss from 3 feet?"